First Big Ben netted us the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 Draft Lottery on Tuesday, now Mr. Big Shot is making a huge step in his coaching career – the Goin’ to Work Crew is making news around the NBA once again. As reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, Chauncey Billups was just hired by Portland Trail Blazers to be their next head coach.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 26, 2021
So Mr. Big Shot’s career on the sidelines is developing at a great pace. It’s just a year since he entered the NBA coaching ranks, becoming an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers. Already that first step was a big one, as he joined Tyronn Lue’s staff as the lead assistant. Starting a coaching career on a team stacked with two of the top players in the league, some impulsive veterans, and young diamonds… well at least emeralds in the rough; with pressure to win it all after a head coach change was surely challenging. But Chauncey stood up to the challenge, helping the Clippers to get to Western Conference Finals for the first time in team’s history.
As a reward, he now gets to make an even bigger step and taking over the sidelines himself in Portland in place of Terry Stotts, who parted ways with the team three weeks ago. But with this reward comes even greater challenges.
The Blazers seem to be stuck in no man’s land. The idea of riding the core of two smallish guards, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, looks to be done. Is Portland going to give it one more shot, which undeniably would be appealing to Mr. Big Shot, former great smallish guard himself? Or will they look to trade one of them? Recently there appeared suggestions that McCollum’s departure could be a question of when, not if. But then again, can he be traded for someone that will push Blazers to contention when paired with Lillard?
Portland won’t have cap space to add bullets to such a new core. Can they add them from inside? Zach Collins, Nassir Little, Anfernee Simons – based on their careers so far, it’d be a stretch to think that they can grow into help for Lillard. McCollum developed into help after a LaMarcus Aldridge-Lillard-Wesley Matthews-Nicolas Batum core was dismantled after the 2014-15 season.
So, if all of these ways to improve the roster enough will really be closed, the Oregon team might be compelled to trade Lillard as well, and start a rebuild. However, Chauncey Billups went through a lot of new starts in his basketball career. Whichever start will be thrown at him in Portland, he should be ready.
Pistons fans should wish him all the best in this new chapter (except, of course, when his Blazers will face their beloved franchise). And I’m sure many of us will look at it as having a hidden meaning, namely as another necessary side step on his way home to coach someday in the Motor City.